Leading civil Rights Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has raised the alarm that a strategic federal agency of ministry of information and culture has become endangered by alleged official corruption and gross violations of public service rules including alleged falsification of ages and employments racketeering.
Listing the National Gallery of Art (NGA) as one that has become allegedly encumbered operationally by alleged deep rooted corruption perpetrated by the hierarchy without any punitive steps by the supervisory minister of information and culture Mr. Lai Mohammed to right the wrongs, HURIWA is asking President Muhammadu Buhari to step in and act swiftly to turn the tide, the group is demanding presidential action.
In a media statement by the National Coordinator of HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko the group urged President Muhammadu Buhari to order the suspension from offices of the key management officials of the National Gallery of Art and constitute a high powered forensic probe panel to investigate the groundswell of allegations of inappropriate actions by the management.
HURIWA has also accused the two anti-corruption agencies of Independent Corrupt Practices and related offences commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) of failing to act even when some whistleblowers sent many petitions to them alleging mind blowing bureaucratic heists.
HURIWA affirmed that “Our attention was drawn to a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari dated September 18th 2022 titled:
“PASSIONATE REQUEST TO SUSPEND THE DIRECTOR GENERAL NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART (NGA) MR. EBETEN WILLIAM IVARA AND SOME OF HIS CABALS COMPRISING MESSRS HENRY UCHE ACHUGBU (DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND ACCOUNTS), SIMON ODEY IKPAKRONYI (DIRECTOR OF CURATORIAL SERVICES), JOHNSON TITUS AKUSU (DIRECTOR OF ADMINISTRATION), AMUSAT BAYO KAZEEM (DEPUTY DIRECTOR ADMIN.), OLAKITAN UZOMA ONAMUSI (HEAD OF PROCUREMENT, CASH OFFICE AND ALSO VIRTUAL STORE AT THE SAME TIME) AND MUSA MUDASHIRU TUNDE (COOPERATIVE CHAIRMAN) FOR ALLEGED LARGE SCALE CORRUPTION, FINANCIAL IMPROPRIETY, UNAUTHORIZED SALE OF GOVERNMENT PROPERTIES, AIDING AND ABATING FALSIFICATION OF RECORDS INCLUDING CHANGE OF BIRTH DATES, EMPLOYMENT SCAM AND GROSS MISCONDUCT UN-BECOMING OF A PUBLIC OFFICER AND FRUSTRATING EVERY INVESTIGATION”.
The Rights group stated that ordering immediate investigations into these range of allegations and recommendations implemented, these remedies will save the National Gallery of Art, a very creative and supposed income generation agency from total collapse due to alleged financial impropriety, incompetence, alleged embezzlement of capital and recurrent releases”.
The Rights group recalled that the whistle blowers had stated thus: “We are compelled to write to your Excellency for your prompt attention and necessary information in order to lend a voice to various petitions on graft and corruption allegations already sent to Governing Board of NGA, SGF, DSS, ICPC, BPP, Auditor General of the Federation, NYSC, Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture since June 2021 on the above subject. Till date, the above allegations have become widespread”.
“According to information made available to us, the DG lvara Ebeten currently has five Court cases pending against his office; two at the Federal High Courts Abuja and three at the National Industrial Court of Nigeria Abuja over alleged high handedness, dictatorship, harassment, arrest and detention of staffs at the IRT Police office Abuja, reckless transfer of about 20 staffs without pay, seizure of Staffs salaries since May 2022 till date, selective confiscation of promotion letters after Board approval, using “transfer without pay” as tool to punish staffs without following due process contrary to Public Service Rules.”
HURIWA reminded President Muhammadu Buhari that the World Bank had disclosed that it sanctioned seven Nigerian firms and individuals for corruption during its 2022 fiscal year. This disclosure was made in the bank’s latest Fiscal Year 2022, which covered July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022, in the Sanctions System Annual Report. The sanction list contained three Nigerians and four Nigerian companies who were found guilty of corruption of necessary investigations by the Washington-based bank. Out of the four companies, two were sanctioned by the African Development Bank, but recognised by other multilateral organizations, including the World Bank under the cross-debarment policy. A particular Mr Salihu Tijani was blacklisted for three years and two months, while Mr Isah Kantigi was blacklisted for five years.
HURIWA said the World Bank report highlighted show that the two anti-corruption agencies have become entangled by corrupt bureaucratic corruption which may have explained the inactions to the allegations disclosed in the petitions by Whistleblowers on the National Gallery of Art.